I think it’s also a particularly female experience. I’m sure men worry about their weight too, but I don’t think they reach the level of crazy that women do – and I have certainly known crazy when it comes to my weight, both at times when I was lighter and at times when I was heavier. I remember that when my husband first started developing a paunch in his forties, rather than seeing it as a tragedy (as I saw the unwanted flabbiness on my own physique), he joked that his newfound belly was his “power source.” I do not believe that any woman would ever be so self-accepting. The women I know (including me) agonize over every tiny imperfection in our appearance. We berate ourselves for having real, lived-in bodies. We obsess over every small indulgence (chocolate!) and mostly have resigned ourselves to a perpetual state of defectiveness.
Lately though, a little voice in my head has been nagging me, posing a question that I would prefer not to confront. It asks: what could I do in the world, what could I have done already in fact, if weight were not the overriding narrative in my life? What would my life be like if I were not trapped in this endless do loop of diet success and diet failure, defining and judging myself by the size of my dress rather than the size of my impact on the world? Why have I accepted a lifelong preoccupation with a number on a scale when I could have been preoccupied with learning and doing and making the world a better place?
Perhaps I’m being overly dramatic. But then this is what goes on in my head. The last five years have been an emotional rollercoaster and I’m ready now for some solid ground. I’ve decided that the task for the next five years is to figure out how to live a healthy life (which includes a healthy weight), while also living a life that is about so much more than obsessing over health and weight.
I’m not sure exactly what this means, but I think living in the question is often better than finding the answer anyway.